Supermarkets call on Harrogate shoppers to avoid panic buying and consider vulnerable customers

Shoppers have been asked to avoid panic buying at supermarkets as the threat of heightened Covid-19 restrictions has once again resulted in the sight of empty shelves across the Harrogate district.

Thursday, 24th September 2020, 12:30 pm
Updated Thursday, 24th September 2020, 12:46 pm

At the start of the coronavirus crisis earlier this year, many of the UK’s big supermarket chains such as Sainsbury’s, Morrisons and Aldi were forced to introduce limits on products to curb panic-buying among shoppers.

Toilet paper, long-life food and tinned products were stripped from shelves as supermarkets struggled to keep up with an upswing in demand.

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This drawing from Yorkshire Post artist Graeme Bandeira highlighted the issue of panic-buying back in March when the first lockdown was announced.

With renewed coronavirus restrictions enforced by Prime Minister Boris Johnson this week, one Harrogate charity is calling on residents to be respectful and ensure they only buy what they need in a bid to protect the elderly and vulnerable.

While the Prime Minister stopped short of enforcing a full lockdown, he has warned that unless the nation keeps to the social distancing regulations, then a second closure of towns and cities could still be on the cards.

The recent rise on coronavirus cases and the threat of a lockdown has been enough to see increased activity across our supermarkets with reports of shelves being completely stripped.

Kate Rogata, Director of Supporting Older People (SOP), urged people to be mindful of their vulnerable neighbours when shopping in Harrogate.

“I would respectfully ask people to remember older and vulnerable people when they shop," she said. “It is very distressing for them to not be able to get a small amount of essential items in their local supermarkets and, whilst volunteers from organisations like SOP can shop for them, if supplies are gone, we can’t help them.

“So I would urge people, like in March, to only buy what they need.”

Some of Harrogate’s biggest supermarkets are also warning shoppers to avoid panic-buying. Asda is reassuring customers there is still great availability both in store and online, with delivery slots increased since the beginning of the lockdown in March.

The number of available slots has been increased by approximately 65%, from 450,000 to over 700,000 - leaving bosses confident they are prepared for any new restrictions and there is no need to stockpile any items.

The food giant is also still offering priority delivery slots to those identified by the Government as ‘clinically extremely vulnerable’.

The British Retail Consortium (BRC) is another organisation urging customers to be mindful of others when shopping.

Andrew Opie, Director of Food & Sustainability at the BRC, said: “Retailers have done an excellent job in ensuring customers have access to food and necessities throughout this pandemic.

“Since March, retail businesses have strengthened their supply chains as well as investing hundreds of millions to make stores safe and secure for customers; this includes perspex screens, social distancing measures and additional hygiene measures.

“As such, retail remains a safe space for consumers, even under future lockdowns.

“Supply chains are stronger than ever before and we do not anticipate any issues in the availability of food or other goods under any future lockdown.

“Nonetheless, we urge consumers to be considerate of others and shop as they normally would.”

Sainsbury’s has now reassured Harrogate residents they can “continue to shop with confidence”, with the capacity to serve twice as many people with home delivery and Click & Collect as it could six months ago and says all customers will be catered for, with no need for panic buying.